Kelantan expected to breathe fresh wind of change
“The Barisan Nasional wind of change is growing in Kelantan. BN has an extremely good chance to take over and form the state government there.” These were the words revealed by the MCA Kedah Liaison chief, Tan Sri Lau Yin Pin today as he introduced the Kelantan BN Blueprint for the non-Malay communities which features nine points in Kelantan intended to bring about development to them whilst safeguarding their rights as non-Malays.
Having been in and out of the PAS-led state for the past few months, Yin Pin expressed sadness witnessing how far behind Kelantan has fallen behind in terms of development compared to other states in Malaysia. There are 45 seats in Kelantan, of which the PAS led state government holds a hairline majority of only one seat. “Based on the 2004 General Elections results, there were 20 marginal seats, whereby BN or PAS had won or lost by around 1,000 votes. For the seats which BN lost, the majority ranged between two votes to 400 votes.”
PAS has governed Kelantan for 18 years of which it lacks new ideas apart for the creation of an Islamic state with hudud laws imposed should it seize federal power. With PAS, Kelantan doesn’t have new programmes and practically no new projects.
In view of the non-progress that Kelantan endures, MCA had formulated imputs for the Kelantan BN Blueprint for the non-Malay communities consisting of the Chinese, Thai and Indian communities. Critics will question, why prepare an MCA Blueprint for Kelantan for the non-Malay population whose numbers total only 5 per cent or of the entire state’s population. The Kelantan Chinese make up 3 per cent or 50,000 people.“ Although the numbers of the non-Malays are small, nevertheless, they hold an extremely important role. They play the balancing role, which is pivotal in causing the swing to favour BN. In order to ensure the future of the non-Malays, BN has come out with a constructive Blueprint spearheaded by MCA,” explained Yin Pin who is also the party’s Treasurer-General.
The Kelantan BN Blueprint involves a four-year development plan which has nine sectors altogether. They are:
1) Revitalizing education where infrastructure will be upgraded, with more schools, Chinese primary and secondary schools being built.
2) Cemetery – Insufficient burial grounds are an issue in Kelantan. Many existing cemeteries are already crowded, and the Chinese have hardly any places left to bury their departed.
3) Protection of the basic rights of non-Malays. During the puasa month, non-Malays encounter restriction in selling their items. E.g., there have been cases where even when a Muslim produced a medical certificate to purchase food from a non-Muslim food operator, the latter was charged by the state authorities for selling a meal to the Muslim. Other restrictions include the hours to sell food and the requirement of a permit to sell beer.
4) Enhancing participation of non-Malays in business and economics – MCA wishes to see more non-Malay Kelantanese participate in the revival of the state’s economy through the East Coast Economic Corridor.
5) Looking after non-Muslim institutions – the Kelantan BN Blueprint will take care or give grants to temples and churches.
6) Land policy – the Kelantan BN Blueprint will ensure that whichever existing policy implemented in Kelantan that is good will be continued. The Blueprint also provides for the review of the land code to make it easier for non-Malays to own land.
The PAS government is proud that it has facilitated NGOs to buy land. However, it doesn’t reveal that although the state has lots of land, people stay in kampongs. Another predicament encountered is the difficulty in renewing the land lease. MCA will review land issues to enable renewal to be easier.
7) Housing – land in Kelantan maybe expansive. But PAS has neglected the poor as it did not build any low or middle cost houses. Kota Bharu in particular has many wooden houses with run-down conditions. The layman cannot afford housing because any projects that come out are medium or high cost. When compared to the low cost of living, the common non-Malay Kelantanese cannot afford housing. In this Kelantan BN Blueprint, the BN government pledges to build low and more middle cost houses.
8) NGOs – the Kelantan BN Blueprint recognizes the roles of non-Malay NGOs, in particular the role of Chinese NGOs are acknowledged.
9) Development of traditional and New Villages – There are 124 non-Malay villages of which more than 80 are Chinese villages that consist of both traditional and New Villages. The Chinese villages are no different from the Malays. They live in poverty, some even worse off than the Malays. The youths lack employment opportunities and the infrastructure is bad. With this Kelantan BN Blueprint, the party wants to play an instrumental role in taking care and developing the basic infrastructure.
For the Kelantan BN Blueprint to succeed, it needs the support of the non-Malay communities to elect the sole MCA state candidate, Sdr Tan Ken Ten, an engineer who will contest for the Kota Lama seat, presently held by a PAS Chinese Muslim who only fights for himself. “He has no succession plan. He’s in the Exco for himself where as MCA talks about the community interests first,” highlighted Yin Pin. “Hence, it is a Community (MCA) versus Individual (PAS) scenario.”
This Blueprint is also important as the PAS government has no focus, and Kelantan lags behind all other states. The youths are fed-up. They have to leave the state to seek jobs elsewhere. Kelantan can’t be going on an ad hoc basis. The non-Malay community may progress further only with BN when there is an MCA representative in the state government and that can only be achieved when the constituents vote in the MCA candidate to speak and work and deliver results for them.